CUBITT Gallery | Studios | Education
8 Angel Mews (off Pentonville Road)
November 24 - January 14
Flo Brooks’s sextet of acrylic paintings here is rendered with precise strokes in bright colors. The artist depicts himself and his parents in the middle of sundry familial activities. You feel like a voyeur running your eyes over these intimate, quotidian tableaux. The maintenance of objects and people is a running theme: Brooks dyes his mother’s gray hairs, helps her deal with a dodgy washing machine, and lies on the floor while working with his father to repair a bathtub. Nobody wants or wants to be a broken thing.
Having recently moved back to his provincial hometown in South West England (Brooks describes himself as a “rural queer”), the artist’s show deals with the perils of renegotiating life where you grew up (the artist was transitioning, undergoing hormone-replacement treatment, while making this new crop of images). Giving and receiving care is a part of this process, enacted in the absence of “other” (i.e., queer) support structures and friendships he left behind in the city. The physical and emotional labor required in “taking care” translates into moments both funny and tragic. Domestic scenes feature meetings of disparate objects, such as a purple butt plug clogging a household drain in Passing objects (all works 2017). Yes I am too, but who am I really? is the only work in which we see Brooks alone. He’s lying in bed shirtless with a laptop, trying to, says the gallery, watch porn. A text appears in a white bubble at the upper left edge of the painting: “Hello. Phone died. Is now good?” Is it ever?